We have today submitted our response to the Shepway District Council consultation on its Places and Policies Plan, which follows the adoption of the Core Strategy in September 2013 setting out the general development strategy for the district until 2026.
One of the purposes of the plan is to identify sites to help meet the housing target of 8,750 new homes. The council says that sites for 3,355 new homes need to be provided in the plan. We dispute this and think that sites for under 900 new homes need to be identified, because the council has not given regard to existing planning permissions and sites already identified.
We have also raised concern about the way in which the council is proposing to spread the development between the towns and villages in the district.
CPRE Kent Senior Planner Brian Lloyd said: “We agree with the council that most new development should go to Folkestone, the district’s principal town, particularly on brownfield land. We also accept that there are opportunities elsewhere. However, we do not agree with the top-down way that the council is proposing to impose housing on towns and villages. We think that the council needs to proactively engage with local communities to find out what they think is an appropriate amount of development for them to take and where it should go. Such bottom-up planning is the essence of localism.”
A particular issue that the council asked for views on is potential development at junction 11 of the M20 Motorway. We consider this location as unacceptable and unsustainable because development would be located in the open countryside completely unrelated to and detached from any existing settlement. It would also involve the loss of precious agricultural land. We would rather see development at junction 13 of the motorway, where opportunities involving brownfield land are available.
We have also asked for a number of additional points to be addressed in the plan, including a commitment to producing a local list of heritage assets and protection of the district’s tranquillity and dark skies.
Mr Lloyd added: “Shepway is a unique part of Kent with a rich historic and natural environment that needs to be safeguarded and protected. The plan needs to provide a strong set of policies to ensure this. Pioneering work by CPRE nationally has shown that the Romney Marsh area is one of the most undisturbed and tranquil parts of Kent and this needs to be recognised in the plan and preserved.”
To view the consultation response click here.
March 11th 2015